Search for the words “spouse travels for work” and you will get something like 723,000 results. Nurturing a relationship is hard enough without mixing in travel schedules that mean time apart. It’s a reality for many people, and one that I fully understand! My speaking engagements are all over the world, which means I am often traveling during the week, and my husband Fred has a demanding career as well. Without each other’s unconditional support, I have no idea how this life would work for us.
If you or your partner travels for work, the following tips can help you better support one another and prevent a lot of guilt and resentment that can arise for couples like us.
1. Don’t keep score. While your work may be highly competitive, that mindset can be detrimental to marriage. The more you think in terms of sharing assets, and the more your empathy guides your thoughts and actions, the more positivity you will project to your significant other (and the more joy will come to you both). Building a partnership focuses not on your gain, but the other person’s. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your relationship.
2. Keep a team mindset. This is the opposite of keeping score. A team mindset is created by each person knowing that the other is there for them. It is created through consistent small acts of generosity, such as giving the other person the benefit of the doubt. Based on a recent conversation with Fred, I adjusted my travel schedule to take our three girls to school in the morning before I leave. That gives Fred a head start on reaching his goals while I am away.
3. Create an “on the road” ritual. Being apart doesn’t mean you can’t be connected. If I have a speech, Fred always texts or calls me about an hour before it starts, or if he has a big meeting I will do the same. Reminding your partner that you remember and are “there” for their big moment is a little act that makes a big difference.
4. Say no. When I am out of town, Fred often turns down work-related invitations to dinners and cocktails. He has to be more efficient with his office time, and cope with less time for himself. Saying no creates room for saying ‘yes’ to what matters.
5. Protect your time together. When Fred and I come home—especially after work trips– our focus is always on each other and our three daughters. Because of our busy schedules, we have to protect our time together. It may seem silly to “schedule” time with your spouse, but Fred and I will put it on our calendars. We love to take a Friday off to golf, have date night at our favorite restaurant, or check out a concert at a local venue. Building in that time together gives us something to look forward to when our schedules are hectic and makes us more appreciative of the time we do have together.
6. Stay conscientious of how your partner recharges. Traveling can be an energy drain, but so can being the person at home left to manage those duties. Value both and be conscientious about how your partner recharges. When I get back from a work trip, Fred always makes sure he gives me time the next day to fit in yoga, which is how I recharge after a trip. It’s a little gesture but it goes a long way.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Congrats to all of you couples who are supporting each other as one or both of you travel for work. Fred and I hope the tips here will help you thrive—please comment and share what helps you balance life, work and being on the road.
Molly Fletcher helps inspire and equip game changers to dream, live and grow fearlessly. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Her e-learning courses spark both personal growth for individuals and corporate development for organizations. Her Game Changer Negotiation Training™ has helped organizations and individuals across all industries more effectively ask for what they want, build stronger relationships and close more deals faster. Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter.